(Korean language) Latin character signs for Seoul bus lines
|I read from Ohmynews that Seoul is going to (or has it already?) redesigned bus lines into four groups marked with a distinct color and a Latin character (G, B, R and Y, from the English words for the four colors). |
• First, kudos for the Ohmynews writer for using mostly the word romaja in the article. For a non-English speaker, to get to the point of being apathetic when seeing one's own writing, that is letters, characters, to be called "English" has been mentally painful. But it is good to see every now and then someone to make a difference between language (mal) and writing (kûl / geul).
• Improving the outlook of Seoul buses (or downtown buses anywhere in Korea) is a welcome project; it's not only facelift that the bus traffic in Seoul needs, but that's one facet.
• Marking bus lines with only Latin characters is something I don't want to accept. It's true that Latin characters have become much more common method of writing that han'geul purists want to acknowledge, and acknowleding the fact that Lating characters are a part of writing systems in Korea is timely, but using only Lating characters in a public service system like buses is not acceptable. Shops may be free to put any kind of signboards they like, but buses are different. Not using the Korean script in marking bus lines is not right kind of modernization.
It is also a matter of linguistic equality for the Korean citizens.
In the bottom of the article there's a reply from the Seoul authorities:
• They are meant to be symbols for the colors rather than characters to be read. The colors and letter symbols were determined to be better designations than Chinese-character words difficult to understand (chisôn, kansôn). The decision was made after wide consultations and collection of opinions from citizens. The redesign operation is being done in 58 bus companies for 8100 vehicles and in 144 "village bus" (maûl pôsû) companies for 1600 vehicles, so it'd be difficult to make changes at this stage. (End of the reply of Seoul authorities.)
Another example of adjusting the domestic language usage to the perceived needs of foreigners. The language cop inside me couldn't help being irritated by the clearly false use of language in a station announcement in a local commuter train here. The adessive ending -ssa (or -ssä) had been omitted where it should have been; I enquired about this from the National Railways, and the answer was that it was thought that it'd be easier for the foreigners to understand the station names in their basic forms! The logic is that "the foreigners" would miss the stations if the announcement went Huopalahdessa ja Pasilassa (at Huopalahti and at Pasila) instead of the now chosen Huopalahti ja Pasila.
Update 2. Media Daum has a Yonhap article, in which the meanings of the four kinds of bus lines, distinguished by the four colors, are explained.
Blue: main lines (kansôn). The longest and most zigzagging routes are rearraigned and straightened.
Green: branch lines (chisôn).
Red: metropolitan routes(kwangyôk), from Seoul to surrounding areas in Gyeonggi-do
Yellow: shuttle routes (sunhwan), going between Seoul and surrounding areas, meant for commuting and shoppers.
The following is from the official Gangnam-gu site (language unaltered):
Reformation of the bus routes and number system
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